Food Handling Guidelines
**Disclaimer: This document is merely a guidance document. Some of this information may not be applicable to certain food procedures. Please be aware that food prepared at home should not be served at “potluck” events that will be charging some form of fee to participate in that event. If there are any questions, please contact the Biological Safety Specialist and Responsible Official
at (312) 413-5986.
Cross-contamination= the transfer of disease causing organisms from a contaminated surface to a previously clean surface.
Foodborne Illness (FBI) = the result of ingestion of food or drink containing the presence of bacteria, viruses, or parasites. These microorganisms cannot be smelled, tasted, or seen. More commonly people use the term food poisoning.
Perishable foods= those foods that require refrigeration. They include food containing meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, or milk products. These foods are also known as potentially hazardous foods.
Ready-to-Eat foods= food that can be eaten without further washing, cooking, or additional preparation.
Food Handling Procedures:
- Food must be brought in as close to the serving time as possible and should be brought directly from the restaurant/food establishment to the site. The longer the amount of time food is left in the danger zone (41˚F-135˚F), the increased chances for bacteria growth and the greater the possibility for someone to become sick!!!
- If dishes have to be picked up the night before, please follow the proper cooling procedures below:
When traveling with food, be aware that time, temperature, and a cold source are key. Here are some tips to help keep your travels cool!
- Food starting at a temperature of 135˚F or above should be placed in the fridge immediately; the temperature must drop to 70˚F in two hours.
- From 70˚F, the food must be covered and allowed to drop to 41˚F in four hours (6 hours total).
- To speed up the cooling process, cut foods into smaller sections, separate into smaller containers, or use shallow pans (4 inches or less).
*Note: When cooling dishes in the refrigerator, DO NOT store cooked dishes under any foods that require further washing or cooking, such as raw meat and vegetables. This may lead to cross-contamination.
- Keep frozen foods in the refrigerator or freezer until you’re ready to go.
- Always use ice or cold packs and fill your cooler with food. A full cooler will maintain its cold temperatures longer than one that is partially filled.
- When traveling, keep the cooler in the air-conditioned passenger compartment of your car, rather than in a hot trunk.
- Hand washing facilities, single-use gloves, and hairnets/caps must be used by those persons that will be handling/serving food. Hands should be washed in warm water and soap. Rub hands together for 30 seconds, rinse, and dry hands with disposable paper towels. Do NOT use common kitchen towels to dry hands. Gloves must be worn only after hands have been washed.
- Gloves should be changed and disposed after each task, interruption, or whenever contaminated. The same goes for hand washing.
- Hair must be kept under control by wearing a cap, hairnet, or bun-tie with hairnet.
- Hot food items must be kept at 140˚F or above. Cold/refrigerated food must be kept at 41˚F or below. Use a numerically scaled thermometer to verify the appropriate temperature.
- If the temperature for hot food drops below 135˚F, then it has to be reheated to 165˚F and attain this temperature for 15 seconds. The food should be reheated rapidly and should be performed in an oven. No hot holding devices should be used for this purpose (therefore, no chaffing dishes, warmers, crock pots, etc).
- Use warming units to keep hot foods at the proper temperature, and keep cold foods in refrigerators or submerged in ice during service to maintain temperature.
- Each item of food must be kept covered at all times during service and transportation. Food must be kept covered in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to maintain food temperatures and to prevent contamination.
- During service, replace covers on dishes after each serving and do NOT allow the covers to be placed on the
ground. We want to prevent covers from being placed on the ground where they may become contaminated and we also want to prevent the food from being left uncovered.
- Utensils and serving dishes must be from an approved source, and must be washed and sanitized at the site before service. Utensils and serving dishes cannot be used if they contain any cracks, chips, breaks, or holes. Utensils and serving dishes must be cleaned in a 3-compartmental sink or a 2-compartmental sink and a dishpan.
- The 3-compartmental sink should have in this order:
- Hot soapy water
- Hot rinse
- Sanitizer dip
- The steps to dishwashing are:
- Scrap/scrub dishes and utensils.
- Wash in hot water (110˚F) containing a good detergent (1st compartment).
- Rinse thoroughly in clean water (2nd compartment).
- In the 3rd compartment, a sanitizer dip of dilute bleach and warm water (follow directions on bleach container)
- Dip dishes and utensils in sanitizer.
- Air dry and store face down (towel drying may rub germs back onto clean dishes).
Serving utensils must remain within its respective dish with the handle extending out of the dish. This means the spoon used to serve rice for example, should remain in the rice dish and NOT used for any other dish!
Limit the quantity of food out for service, especially cold foods. We want to prevent bacteria growth from occurring, which can lead to food poisoning.
Four Simple Food Safety Rules to Remember:
- Keep hot food above 135˚F
- Keep cold food below 41˚F
- Keep hands, work surfaces, and utensils clean!
- Never leave perishable food out of the refrigerator over 2 hours!
Food Guidelines for Dishes Prepared at Home
- Food should be prepared at an approved (licensed) site.
- Home prepared food products are usually NEVER permitted at temporary food/potluck events because…..
- There are no controls on the conditions of preparation or storage of foods
- Of the potential allergic reactions by customers who have consumed food at an event that may have been contaminated with pet dander or pet hair.
Therefore, take the following directions very seriously!!!!!!!!!!!
- After grocery shopping, bring food straight home and place in the refrigerator or freezer!
- Make sure food items are in good condition when picking up groceries at the store.
- Be sure your refrigerator is set at below 41ºF and the freezer at 0ºF. Use a properly functioning numerically scaled thermometer to check the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer.
- When refrigerating raw meat, poultry, or fish, do NOT store them over ready-to-eat foods. Contaminated juices can drip onto other food.
- Wash hands and exposed portions of arms with soap and water, rubbing hands together for 30 seconds. Rinse and then dry hands with disposable paper towels.
- Wash hands after any breaks or interruptions, such after smoking, scratching your body, sneezing, coughing, handling dirty dishes or raw meat, and handling garbage.
- Keep hair pulled back.
- Do NOT thaw food on the kitchen counter at room temperature. Thaw food either in the microwave, in the refrigerator (at 40ºF or below), or under running cold water.
- If food item is thawed in the microwave, it must be cooked immediately.
- Preparing Food:
- Do NOT prepare food in the same room where pets are allowed.
- Consider ALL raw meat contaminated. KEEP raw meat, raw chicken/poultry, and raw fish and their juices AWAY from other food.
- Designate one cutting board and knife for meat.
- Platters that had raw meat on them must be rewashed, if cooked meat will be put back on them.
- Cutting boards, knives, platters, bowls, etc. should be removed from the preparation area and washed as soon as possible after each use.
- Grains (rice, flour, starch, etc.) if uncooked carry contaminates.
- Properly wash fruits, vegetables, rice, and meats.
- After cooking, follow the Proper Cooling Procedures discussed at top of page.